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Joel Embiid on status for Game 1 of 76ers-Nets: ‘I have no idea’

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Joel Embiid missed 14 of the 76ers’ last 24 games with a knee injury. Philadelphia opens the playoffs tomorrow afternoon against the Nets.

Rich Hoffman of The Athletic:

The 76ers are a totally different team with Embiid in or out. Not only is he an excellent two-way player, Philadelphia’s backup centers are lacking. Boban Marjanovic, Jonah Bolden and Greg Monroe are each flawed.

The Nets might not be good enough to take advantage. Philadelphia still has Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and J.J. Redick, after all.

But Embiid missing time in this series definitely opens the door for Brooklyn.

Joel Embiid out for Sixers against Warriors Saturday, expects to return next week

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Joel Embiid played 21 minutes in the All-Star Game Feb. 17.

He has yet to play a minute since — and that includes sitting out Saturday night in a nationally televised game against the Warriors (Jonah Bolden will get the start). Philly has gone 3-1 without Embiid, but with both him and Boban Marjanovic (sprained knee) sidelined, coach Brett Brown has had to resort to unconventional and smaller lineups. This is not the Sixers rotation we will see in the playoffs, and with the in-season additions of Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, this is a roster that needs time on the court together to gel.

That should start to happen next week when Embiid said he will be back. From Serena Winters of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

But he pushed through it at the All-Star Game, something that is raising a lot of eyebrows now. To be fair, the All-Star game is not exactly stressful minutes, nobody is playing all out or defending much, but it’s still running up and down the court on an apparently sore knee.

Any time the words “Embiid” and “injury” are in the same sentence there should be concern, but what the Sixers are doing here is the prudent course of action. The playoffs, the long term does matter more. But the fact he’s needed this much time off after the All-Star break is concerning.

The Warriors will be without Klay Thompson Saturday night, and he is their go-to perimeter defender. The size in the lineup for the Sixers — 6’10” Ben Simmons, 6’10” Tobias Harris, 6’8″ Jimmy Butler — still makes Philly a tough matchup for Golden State. We’ll see how serious the Warriors decide to take this regular season game, that is always a crap shoot.

Sixers update: Joel Embiid out Thursday vs. Thunder; Boban MRI comes back negative

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The Sixers are going to be without either of their main big men for Thursday night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but the news could be worse.

Joel Embiid has sat out the first three games since the All-Star break to rest a sore knee, and he was always going to be re-evaluated in one week. It also was always a smart bet he would be out longer, which is what will happen. Coach Brett Brown broke the news, with an update coming before a big weekend showdown with the Warriors.

It’s still too early to really worry for Sixers fans (outside of the level of concern that should always accompany the words “Embiid” and “injury”) but if he sits out the nationally televised game on Saturday, that’s a bigger red flag. Even if resting Embiid now is the smart play.

On the bright side, Boban Marjanovic‘s MRI came back negative from the knee injury he suffered in the final minutes of the Sixers win over the Pelicans on Monday.

He will be out for a week or so with a bone bruise and mild sprain of his knee. That could have been much worse.

Expect a lot of Jonah Bolden (who started Monday) and Amir Johnson for Philly. The challenge here is who the Sixers are facing. Oklahoma City is one of the better teams in the league and has a physical presence in the paint in Steven Adams who they could use Embiid to match up with. After that comes the Warriors and DeMarcus Cousins, who has struggled some of late but is still a force of nature.

Misadventures stall progress for 76ers

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NBCSports.com’s Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

After an extended period of mediocrity then several years of tanking, the 76ers won 52 games and reached the second round, their best season since Allen Iverson led them to the 2001 NBA Finals.

But Philadelphia sure didn’t get the typical stability that follows a breakthrough like that.

The 76ers experienced plenty of disorder this offseason – some welcomed, some not, some between and most of it in service of adding another star.

The Process was always built on the understanding that acquiring multiple stars is both extremely difficult and all but necessary to win a championship. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, a combination many teams would envy, aren’t enough for Philadelphia.

That’s a reason the 76ers ousted Sam Hinkie, who drafted Embiid and positioned Philadelphia to make the easy call of drafting Simmons. Hinkie executed his vision smartly, but also callously. It’s hard to tank for that long without upsetting people, and the perception he turned the franchise into an embarrassment only grew. So, the 76ers turned to an executive with a more acceptable reputation around the league.

That decision that came home to roost this summer, as Bryan Colangelo’s tenure ended in a scandal far more tawdry than anything under Hinkie.

We still don’t know precisely what happened with those burner Twitter accounts, but the 76ers determined Colangelo’s wife, Barbara Bottini, ran the accounts and he mishandled private and sensitive information. The 76ers didn’t find proof he knew about the accounts, and he denied prior knowledge. But it shouldn’t be lost the team’s investigation was impeded by Bottini deleting the contents of her cell phone. Also remember: Two days after news broke of the accounts’ existence, Colangelo was still denying any knowledge of anything about them. In the midst of the biggest scandal of his career, his wife never came clean to him? That is the most unbelievable part of this saga.

So, the 76ers rightfully dumped Colangelo, even though it left them without a general manager for the draft and free agency. With that void in leadership, LeBron James, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard all ended up elsewhere.

Unable to get that additional star via trade or free agency, Philadelphia used most of its cap space on J.J. Redick and Wilson Chandler.

Re-signing Redick (one year, $12.25 million) was especially important given Ersan Ilyasova’s and Marco Belinelli’s departures in free agency. Ilyasova (two years, $14 million guaranteed from the Bucks with an unguaranteed third season) and Belinelli (two years, $12 million from Spurs) were important cogs on last year’s team due their shooting. The 76ers were +42 in the playoffs when Ilyasova and Belinelli shared the court and -3 otherwise – a remarkable split for a pair of reserves.

But Philadelphia clearly didn’t want to limit its long-term star-acquiring flexibility. So, matching multi-year contracts for Ilyasova and Belinelli was a no go.

That’s why trading for Chandler was at least logical. Though overpaid, he’s on an expiring contract can can still pay. The 76ers also got second-round consideration for taking him from the tax-avoiding Nuggets.Still, it seems Philadelphia could have gotten a better free agent for that money, someone good enough to justify passing on the Denver picks.

Keeping a theme, the 76ers lost Nemanja Bjelica when he determined the one-year room exception didn’t provide him enough stability. Why he didn’t figure that out before agreeing to the deal with Philadelphia is on him, but the 76ers paid the price for his defection to the Kings on a multi-year deal.

So, still in need of a stretch big with Ilyasova and Bjelica out of the picture, Philadelphia traded Justin Anderson and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot for the Hawks’ Mike Muscala, who, naturally, is on an expiring contract. Because Muscala is a four/five (to Bjelica’s four/three), the 76ers dumped reserve center Richaun Holmes for cash. They also re-signed backup center Amir Johnson to a minimum contract for – you guessed it – one year.

Not only are the 76ers preserving 2019 cap space, they’re also stockpiling assets for their star search. On draft night, they traded No. 10 pick Mikal Bridges – who profiles as a solid role player and would have acclimated nicely to Philadelphia, where he grew up and played collegiately at Villanova – to the Suns for No. 16 pick Zhaire Smith and the Heat’s unprotected 2021 first-round pick. That Miami pick has major upside and could be valuable in a trade with a team moving its star and rebuilding.

Philadelphia left the draft with Smith, No. 26 pick Landry Shamet and No. 54 pick Shake Milton. The 76ers also signed last year’s second-rounder Jonah Bolden to a four-year contract. It’s a nice haul of young talent to add to Philadelphia’s stockpile.

But none of those players is the star the 76ers clearly seek. After undercutting themselves, they at least did well to give themselves a chance to try again next year.

That said, maybe they already have the additional star they desire. Markelle Fultz suffered through a miserable rookie year due to the yips. Whether injury was the cause or effect barely matters now. If he finds his groove, that could swing the franchise’s fortunes for a decade. His development might be more important to Philadelphia’s offseason than any signing, trade or draft pick.

I believe Fultz has improved over the summer. But I just can’t project he’ll return to the star track that made him the No. 1 pick a year ago. That’s too big a leap of faith. Even major advances could still leave him well short of stardom.

But he is the biggest variable in offseason that saw Philadelphia lose helpful contributors, fail to maximize its ample cap space and move one year closer to Simmons joining Embiid on max contracts that will limit flexibility.

At least they’re still in strong shape for next summer.

Offseason grade: C-

Carmelo Anthony traded to Hawks, who will waive him

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When Jonah Bolden was signed by the 76ers Wednesday morning, the final piece was in place for the big Carmelo Anthony trade to Atlanta to finally go through.

It has and the three-team deal is now official, the teams involved announced.

As a reminder:

• Atlanta gets Carmelo Anthony (who they will quickly turn around and buyout/waive at full salary), Justin Anderson (from 76ers), and a protected 2022 first-round pick (from Thunder, lottery protected).

• Oklahoma City gets Dennis Schroder (from Hawks), and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (from 76ers).

• Philadelphia gets Mike Muscala (from Hawks).

Anthony got what he wanted — out of Oklahoma City and a full payday.

As soon as Anthony clears waivers he will sign with the Houston Rockets for the minimum. Anthony will help the Rockets on offense — Houston is taking a step back defensively (having lost Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute this summer), but if Anthony can start and give Houston some buckets in the first and third quarters (keeping James Harden and Chris Paul a little more fresh) he can help the team. How well he accepts that role remains to be seen.

The Thunder will save about $73 million in salary and luxury tax with this trade. They could have saved more money by just waiving and stretching Anthony, but this move both gives them more flexibility going forward and another playmaker behind Russell Westbrook in Schroder.

“We want to welcome Dennis and Timothé to Oklahoma City and the Thunder,” OKC General Manager Sam Presti said in a statement. “Both of these players represent the continued transition of our style of play. Dennis provides us with another proven playmaker and someone that will only enhance the overall speed of our team. Timothé adds another young, long, versatile wing that can play multiple positions and complement our returning core.”

This trade was agreed to last week but certain pieces had to fall into place before it could become official.